A historic moment in Vanuatu-Abkhazia relations

Game changer? Vanuatu, a Pacific island nation that lies about 1,500 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia, has become the fifth country to recognize Abkhazia’s independence, agreeing to set up diplomatic relations with the self-declared republic, according to a May 27 statement on the Abkhazian Foreign Ministry’s website. Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another separatist region of ...

Game changer?

Vanuatu, a Pacific island nation that lies about 1,500 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia, has become the fifth country to recognize Abkhazia’s independence, agreeing to set up diplomatic relations with the self-declared republic, according to a May 27 statement on the Abkhazian Foreign Ministry’s website.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another separatist region of Georgia, declared independence after a five-day war between Russia and the former Soviet satellite state in August, 2008. Only Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru, another country in the South Pacific, recognize their independence. Georgia maintains Russia occupied the two regions after the conflict. 

Game changer?

Vanuatu, a Pacific island nation that lies about 1,500 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia, has become the fifth country to recognize Abkhazia’s independence, agreeing to set up diplomatic relations with the self-declared republic, according to a May 27 statement on the Abkhazian Foreign Ministry’s website.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another separatist region of Georgia, declared independence after a five-day war between Russia and the former Soviet satellite state in August, 2008. Only Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru, another country in the South Pacific, recognize their independence. Georgia maintains Russia occupied the two regions after the conflict. 

One wouldn’t want to understate the significance of the milestone in Abkhazia’s quest for international legitimacy, but Vanuatu can be fickle when it comes to interntaional recognition questions. It briefly recognized Taiwan in 2004 only to switch back to recognizing Beijing only a month later. Apparently there was some drama at the time:

[Then Prime Minister Serge] Vohor was also accused… of physically assaulting China’s new ambassador, Bao Shusheng, by punching him on the shoulder after he complained that the flag of Taiwan was still flying in a hotel.

In general, Vanuatans seems to be pretty open-minded to new states. They recognize Kosovo and Palestine as well. 

Hat tip: Miriam Elder 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.